My bookshelf is, firstly, too small. It’s also the least-visited of all my book-storing spaces. But it’s also the prettiest. This bookshelf is the landing place for books I’ve read, annotated, taken photos of, and decided to keep. It’s organized by color, as it’s the brightest space in my room, and I associate it with busyness of ideas and in need of aesthetic order. Each color-coded section is split into genres: poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. I feel pleased to look at the bookshelf from my bed across the room and usually less pleased when I have to approach it to look for a particular title of which I can’t remember the color.
Other non-bookshelf “bookshelves” are my mantle, where I store books I’m currently reading or want to read next, in stacks of prose and poetry (not color-coded) and my windowsill, where I’ve been keeping books I’m studying for my MFA thesis. These stacks tend to look a little more haphazard, which feels okay to me, as they’re more in flux.
I’ve only just begun to feel I’m growing out of my bookshelf, as I buy books carefully, for the most part, after first taking them out of the library and deciding if I love the entire book enough to buy it. If I love only parts of a book and not necessarily the entire book, I’ll just just copy key lines or phrases by hand or photograph–a solution that’s evolved to meet my graduate-student budget.
While I hope in the future to have more expendable income to spend on books, I imagine the minimalist in me will always be choosy about what texts come into my home permanently. And I’d be hard pressed to imagine my central bookshelf (or shelves!) arranged without some organizing principal—the dream would be to find a system that both looks good and makes quick sense.
Aumaine Rose Gruich is an MFA candidate at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has received support from the Chautauqua Writer’s Workshop and the Illinois Department of Dance’s Choreographic Platform. Aumaine’s work is published or forthcoming in magazines such as Pleiades, Court Green, Phoebe, and Bluestem.